12/17/2002 12:00AM

Mud okay for Cycle of Life

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ALBANY, Calif. - Frances Henderson is probably not the only trainer who wishes Thursday's first race, a one-mile race for maiden 2-year-old fillies, was being run on the turf. Her horse, Cycle of Life, is one of four horses in the field coming out of a Nov. 27 grass race.

Thursday's card will likely be run on a wet main track.

Cycle of Life is an interesting prospect. Despite blue-blood breeding, Cycle of Life began her career in the $12,500 maiden ranks. Henderson claimed Cycle of Life for herself in the filly's second start.

"I claimed her because of her family," said Henderson, noting Cycle of Life is the first foal of the Mr. Prospector mare Autumn Moon and that her sire, Spinning World, is a popular grass sire.

Cycle of Life showed little in her first five starts, finishing no better than fourth. On Nov. 7, she ran last in a mile race transferred from the turf to a wet-fast track. She finally got on the turf in her last start and ran third, beaten by 1 1/4 lengths at 51-1.

Also coming out of that race are Artist's Studio, second by a neck over Cycle of Life; Tender Trap, fourth as the favorite, a length behind Cycle of Life; and fifth-place finisher Proud Gal.

Henderson believes Cycle of Life will run better Thursday than she did Nov. 7.

"Horses that run well on the turf generally run well in the mud. That has been the rule of thumb," Henderson said. "I've had some who could run on turf and not be able to stand up in the mud. I think this filly can handle the mud."

Cycle of Life is small, she has grown - mentally and physically - since Henderson claimed her Aug. 19.

Because of the filly's size, Henderson takes it easy during training.

"She loves to train, but sometimes she takes too much out of herself," Henderson said.

Henderson is willing to give Cycle of Life another chance in the mud because she does not believe the filly got a good ride in her first try.

"She broke well, but the rider that day took hold of her out of the gate," Henderson said. "If you do that, she'll stop. The key is to let her come out, and she'll settle on her own."

Henderson liked the way Ryan Morris let Cycle of Life settle into a good stalking position in the turf race. She was second in the stretch and was passed late as Artist's Studio re-rallied, but she finished well and was making up ground on the leader.

On Thursday, Cycle of Life will probably sit off Island Maze and Artist's Studio early and try to make first run on them. Then she will have to hold off late-running Proud Gal.

Cycle of Life is not the only reason for optimism in Henderson's barn. Stakes winner Peteski's Charm, returned from a nearly two-year layoff last Saturday. He was last in a very fast sprint race but came out of the race fine, according to Henderson.

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